Simple steps to help you hit your savings goals
Money management can be tricky. Working out how to manage money better may seem daunting, but with these simple tips and tricks it could be completely achievable – you've got this.
Why we fail
You’ve probably tried to reach some money targets before and not quite got there. That’s perfectly OK. Worthwhile goals can be tricky to achieve. There are three reasons we all fail from time to time – recognising these can help us overcome them.
1. Not being specific enough
General statements like ‘I want to save more’ or ‘I need to spend less’ are too vague to stick to. They make it too easy to create lots of ‘exceptions’ that knock you off track.
We all tend to work better when we try to achieve specific goals. For example, ‘I want to save £1,000 in the next six months’ or ‘I want to halve how much I spend on takeaways for the rest of the year’.
2. Avoiding practical action
Just like we’re more likely to achieve specific goals, we need practical ways to help us get there. Fail to plan and plan to fail, as they say.
3. You don’t love your goals
Some things are just not exciting but we all have to do them – cleaning the shower, taking out the rubbish, waiting for the bus. Goals should be things that may be a bit difficult, but you’re really motivated to achieve.
Pick money aims you’re passionate about reaching, like ‘I want to be debt-free in two years' time’ or ‘I will own my own home by the time I’m X age’.
Three hacks the professionals use to stay on track
Ever wondered what successful people have in common? Well, way back in 1989 a book called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People laid out some insider tips (and has since sold 25 million copies around the world). Here are three of its key points:
1. Be proactive
This is sometimes called the ‘push’. Like putting on your trainers and heading out for a jog even if there’s a horrible drizzle outside. Chasing your money goals proactively can help you achieve them and avoid bigger problems from building up.
2. Begin with the end in mind
Choose the financial goals you want to achieve, then work back from there. Decide where you want to be financially, set a future date to get there, and track back to where you are today. Planning is important to stay on track.
3. First things first
Separate out what’s important from what’s urgent. You may have lots of money goals, but some may need your attention first, so it is essential to recognise those.
You’ve got this – three easy tricks to help you hit your money goals
1. Draw up a list of specific money goals
Lists can be great money management tools. Physically writing (or typing) out what we want to achieve makes it real. Building a list of every financial target you want to hit gives you a clear picture of your aims and puts you in a better place to achieve them.
Work out which money goals you need to achieve first, and if you need help with this speak to a financial adviser. Debts are usually the most pressing money issue so are often the first step to better financial wellbeing. Then you could consider short and long term saving goals based on your needs and current financial situation.
A short-term saving goal could be building up a rainy day fund so you know you’d be able to pay your bills if you lost your job. A longer-term goal may be saving up a deposit for a house or reviewing your monthly pension contributions depending on when you would want to retire.
You don’t have to wait to complete your short-term goals before you start your longer-term goals.
2. Have a clear fixed target
This could be ‘paying off my £2,000 credit card before the end of the year’ or ‘overpaying my mortgage by £100 a month so I can retire earlier’. Maybe it’s to save three months expenditure for a rainy day fund over the next 10 paydays.
Decide your money management goal, know your why and then fix a date you hope to achieve it by. Write it down. Then work your way back to where you’re now, to see how much achieving your goal will cost you each month from today until your target date.
Mark off a countdown on your calendar to keep you motivated as you get closer to your goal, even on days it feels like a slog.
3. Make a practical start
Forget yesterdays, today is your money management day. You might have heard the quote that, ‘The best time to start was yesterday. The next best time is now’. Start small, make your targets achievable and based on how much you can genuinely afford each week or month. But start.
Whatever your money goals are, you need to make them come alive with action.
Be cautious and consider getting advice
Achieving your money goals can require patience – being realistic about how long, is a key part of meeting your targets – and there are times when you may want to give up. At these moments ‘get rich quick’ schemes can seem attractive solutions but they never are.
How to spot a scam
Any scheme offering high, risk-free guaranteed returns, promising access to your pension before age 55, telling you the investment is for a limited time only, or just for you, it’s most likely a scam. For more information on protecting yourself from pension scams, here’s our 6 simple steps to consider.
How can a financial adviser help me?
You may decide you need some expert help. Getting professional financial advice from a regulated financial adviser can guide you on how to manage money better, like on how to plan for retirement, and make comprehensive money plans throughout your life.
Tucked away, you have good intentions to manage money better – that’s why you’re reading this. Today can be another step on your journey to achieving financial security.
This article isn’t intended as financial advice. If you’re looking to find a financial adviser near you, visit MoneyHelper.